By the end of the film, Simmons is dogged by a gang of paparazzi who follow his every step, shouting out questions about his life and career. The behavior stands in contrast to Simmons' interaction with his fans that begins the film. The reasons for this are best left unstated, but it's safe to say that the turnabout in Simmons' treatment by the public and media reveals something about how he handles the rekindled attention—and about the personal connections that get lost along the way.

The film's themes could have been made clearer were Funny People a more disciplined film. As it is, the film contains too many characters and too many subplots. Ira's roommates are good for a few laughs, but a competition between roommates for a woman's affection never gathers steam, and Simmons' pursuit of Laura feels like it could have been its own movie.

The most enjoyable aspect of Funny People is how it pokes fun at the actors' real-life vanity and career choices. Sandler has acted in his share of high-concept drek similar to Simmons' hit movies like Merman and Re-do.  Likewise, the film slyly addresses Rogen's weight-loss after Knocked Up, which has generated curiosity among film writers as to whether a slimmed-down Rogen might affect the actor's box-office appeal. "There's nothing funny about a physically fit man," Leo tells Ira, and based on the reception of Observe and Report, Rogen's previous film in which he appeared slimmer and trimmer, it's hard to disagree.

So, is Funny People funny? It's similar to Apatow's other shock comedies, specializing in vulgar humor that's now, sadly, become run-of-the-mill in its frank emphasis on sex. But whereas The Forty-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up both had positive messages about sexuality and human dignity (if one could get past the sexually explicit dialogue), Funny People doesn't have enough of a positive message to overcome its stream of bawdy stand-up comedy and profanity-laced script. The film's excessive length only magnifies its negative elements.


Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@verizon.net.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  Lord's name taken in vain; extremely foul language throughout; a joke about a woman who's mistaken for a lesbian; racial epithets; frequent references to genitalia; jokes about flatulence.
  • Smoking/Drinking:  Drug use and drinking; George says he's going to the store for cigarettes.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Frequent sexual banter and joking; characters sleep with multiple partners and discuss their past conquests; a woman's breasts are shown as she has sex with George, who is shown shortly thereafter having sex with the woman's friend; George undresses a married woman and is shown afterward talking with her in bed; later, the woman involved says George performed oral sex on her but that they did not have intercourse; discussion of other forms of sexual stimulation.
  • Violence/Crime:  George offers Ira money to kill him, but is only joking; a joke about a serial killer; a fistfight and brawl.
  • Religion:  Brought up only briefly during a comedy routine in which George says his parents didn't believe in God and passed those beliefs on to him; a man tells a friend that his grandfather probably went to hell, not heaven; a song lyric states, "the kingdom of heaven is in your hands"; a man says that Buddhist friends taught him to speak from the heart, and expresses a belief in karma.
  • Marriage:  George regrets the way he treated some old flames, but expresses no regrets about his continuing sexual conquests; he pursues a married woman who believes her husband has been cheating on her; Ira says his parents are divorced; a child says a potential divorce by her parents wouldn't be good; a generation dealing with parents who divorced is contrasted to a generation that dealt with parents who abused their kids; a man says that no one who's married is happy.